This grilled pesto turkey sandwich with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and sourdough bread is the ultimate turkey sandwich.
This gourmet grilled cheese is a deli-quality recipe. Use thick, carved turkey breast or ultra-thin slices. Thick turkey can be sliced to order at the deli or purchased pre-packaged. Look for labels like "carved" or "carving board" in the lunch meat section.
This is the perfect sandwich with vine-ripened tomatoes, summertime heirloom tomatoes, and leftover turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
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Why you'll love this recipe
- Fast: Make this recipe in 10-15 minutes.
- Few ingredients: Only 6 ingredients (plus salt and pepper).
- Easy to make: This recipe is perfect for all home cooks, even beginners.
- Sourdough bread: Sourdough is perfect for grilled cheese or any grilled sandwich. It is a healthier alternative to white bread.
- Pesto: Prepared basil pesto is found in a jar on the pasta aisle or in a tub by the refrigerated pasta. Filippo Berio is a classic pesto with basil and parmesan. Note: pesto contains pine nuts, see substitutions below for alternatives.
- Sliced turkey: Thick carved turkey or ultra-thin sliced turkey.
- Fresh tomato: Look for any large, ripe red tomato. Also keep your eyes peeled for tomatoes labeled as beefsteak or heirloom.
- Fresh mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella can be found in the speciality cheese section of the grocery store. It is usually found in a ball or log shape, whole or sliced.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted will do.
- Salt and pepper: To taste.
See the recipe card for quantities.
On both slices of bread, spread pesto evenly to the insides.
Top the pesto on one slice with turkey.
Next, add the tomato. Salt and pepper the tomato to taste.
Tip: Allow the tomato slices to sit on a paper towel for several minutes before preparing your sandwich to absorb excess water.
Top the tomato with the fresh mozzarella slices.
Close the sandwich and apply half of the butter to one side, spreading it evenly to the edges.
In a pan on medium heat, grill the sandwich buttered side down for 3-5 minutes or until golden. Butter the other side of the bread with the remaining butter before flipping and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Cut and serve immediately.
Customize this turkey pesto sandwich to make it your own:
- Sourdough - Try sliced brioche, rye bread, pumpernickel, or even Texas toast.
- Meat - instead of turkey, try chicken
- Pesto - instead of traditional basil pesto, try vegan basil pesto, homemade nut-free pesto, or sun-dried tomato pesto.
- Cheese - instead of fresh mozzarella, try shredded whole milk mozzarella, provolone, American, mild cheddar, or havarti.
- Butter - Mayo is excellent for grilled sandwiches. Many prefer mayonnaise over butter for an even, golden brown color.
Other cooking methods
Try one of these alternative cooking methods:
- Broil - To make a grilled cheese in the oven, set it to broil and move the rack toward the top of the oven. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Butter the sandwich and place it on the baking sheet butter side down. Butter the top of the sandwich and broil for about 3 minutes, watching the sandwich closely. Flip the sandwich before cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
- Panini press - Add your buttered sandwich to a preheated panini press (medium heat). Butter the top of the sandwich and close the press, operating according to the manufacturer's instructions. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Air fryer - Add your butter sandwich to the air fryer basket. Butter the top of the sandwich and cook at 360°F for 3-5 minutes. Flip the sandwich and cook for another 3-5 minutes. For an air fryer convection oven with a sear plate, follow the same instructions.
Adjust the ingredient quantities as needed to fit the size of your bread slices. This recipe was developed using large sourdough bread slices (pictured), but for smaller sandwich bread, less pesto, turkey tomato, mozzarella, and butter will be required.
Pesto Turkey Sandwich
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 2-3 tablespoons pesto
- 2-3 ounces sliced turkey
- 2 slices fresh tomato
- 2-3 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
- 1-½ tablespoons salted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- On both slices of bread, spread pesto evenly to the insides.
- On one slice, layer the turkey, tomato (salt and pepper to taste), and mozzarella slices.
- Close the sandwich and apply half of the butter to one side, spreading it evenly to the edges. In a pan on medium heat, grill the sandwich buttered side down for 3-5 minutes or until golden. Butter the other side of the bread using the remaining butter before flipping and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
- Cut and serve.